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Gloucestershire villagers need to dig deep for fibre broadband

Residents of the south Gloucestershire village of Elberton have been told they’ll need to fork out if they want superfast broadband to come to their streets. 

The village is not due to benefit from the South Gloucestershire plan which aims to connect up to 94 per cent of premises to superfast fibre-based broadband by March 2016. 

This is despite the fact that BT will be upgrading the local exchange at Thornbury in 2014. 

Gloucestershire villagers need to dig deep for fibre broadband
Expensive Cabs: The cost of bringing FTTC to Elberton could cost up to £75,000

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Rural BroadbandA BT spokesperson told local paper the Gazette that the cabinet at Alveston was too far away from Elberton for superfast broadband to be viable. The village will not benefit from improved speeds without significant investment, which would require setting up a new street cabinet.  

FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband on the Openreach network can provide speeds of up to 80Mbps. The top speed you’ll actually get depends on your distance from the street cabinet, much like the speeds you get from an ADSL connection. This aspect of FTTC means that rural areas, typically located far from exchanges and street cabinets, aren’t included in superfast rollout plans.  

The cost for setting up a new cabinet in Elberton is estimated to cost anything from £25,000 to £75,000. 

Costs for installing a street cabinet vary from region to region, with the price dictated in part by the energy companies supplying electricity for street cabinets. Because of the varying prices, BT only says that setting up a street cabinet costs ‘tens of thousands’. 

Country-dwelling folk in Wales will soon be able to apply for grants of up to £1,000 per home to cover the costs of cabinet installation. Across the border in South Gloucestershire it’s another story. 

Elberton resident Andrew Watkins is planning to launch a local fundraising campaign for a new cabinet, but he’s not optimistic:  “I’m going to suggest it but I don’t know what the response will be. I know from my experience trying to drum up support, people don’t want to put their hands in their pockets.”

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said that Elberton will not benefit from further public investment, unlike the village of Bradley Stoke, so residents will need to dig deep. 

Because Elberton is served by an exchange that is part of BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out, the village is not eligible for any extra council or government money. While this may be true it ignores the reality of the situation, that FTTC broadband is not available in the village despite BT upgrading the local exchange. 

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